Book Blogging 101 – Chapter 2

Figuring Out Your Look & Feel along with Your Purpose

Like your job interview attire, or your fabulous new Jimmy’s at an A-List party – your first impression should be one of WOW not PFFT and how does one make a wow impression? It doesn’t have to be flashy, it doesn’t have to cost $600 — it just has to be put together nicely, instead of just thrown together haphazardly. And there are a lot of things to think about to make your style cohesive.

Section 1: The Overall Look and Feel

Computer

Image from sqback via Stock.xchng

Something you have to think about when starting your blog is the overall look and feel of your blog. Your blogger style. This is the first impression people are going to get when they view your actual blog.

I always tell my clients to narrow down adjectives that they would like readers to “feel” when viewing or reading their blog. Great examples are:

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  • Fun
  • Exciting
  • Professional
  • Stylish
  • Snarky
  • Helpful
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These are your guideline adjectives. These should guide you on your path as you write your posts, or create a header —  even guide you as you place things on your sidebar. If you choose to convey a Fun but Professional blog, you want to ask yourself before you post anything — ANYTHING! — whether on Facebook, Twitter, G+ wherever your readers are lurking, “Is this Fun? Is this Professional?”

Now, you might not want to restrict yourself all the time, but for the majority of your posts, you should be able to answer “Yes” before you hit submit. If not, you might want to revise your goal “adjectives”.

Section 2: Figuring out your “Purpose” in the blogging community

This might sound like an easy step and it really might be for some, but it is also might be very hard to hold onto as your blogging life moves into full gear.

I know you might think I’m off my money on this, but it is so easy to get off track as you blog.

If your purpose when you start is to inform the world about the benefits of reading Science Fiction novels, you might be distracted when a contemporary romance novelist approaches you to review their book. They might beg and plead and you’ve read contemporary romance before and liked it — so what is the harm?

It might not make that big of a difference to some, but you also might confuse a lot of your readers. They are looking for science fiction, not romance.

My advice, again, before you post, retweet or elucidate on a topic, ask yourself, does this have anything to do with my overall purpose? Will my readers be informed or entertained by this post?

If you answer “No” you might want to stop and think about the benefit of what you are about to post, or agree to post.

The Downfall

The point of this Section is that I assume you do not want to be labeled as a sell-out or promotion chaser. A blogger that opinions can’t be trusted because they just post whatever the publishers tell them or do advertising spots disguised as posts.

This happens all the time. It happens to me on a daily basis. Author gets in touch with me to do a Guest Post. I say yes, the book looks good, looks in-line with what I want to feature on my blog — and then I get the Guest Post — and what is it? An advertisement for their large giveaway on THEIR blog, with maybe a paragraph before the promotion that describes the book. My focus as a blogger is not to just regurgitate author’s promotions. No matter how nice the author is, I decline the Guest Post and ask them to send me another one that isn’t all promotion of their giveaway.

Things Change

Things do change. I have done it myself by adding Patti to the roster and featuring more Contemporary Romance. This occurred when it seemed like most of my readers had a big interest in Contemporary Romance. But, I polled my readers before I made the addition. The majority said yes they would like to have a strictly Romance feature.

You’ll See The Difference

I’ve posted off topic. A classic that I’ve enjoyed and wanted the world to know about it, or a straight-up Fantasy novel that I wanted to read. Usually these posts have about 20 pageviews and No Comments.

A Balancing Act

When you do tailor your posts to your readers though, you walk a fine line – between pandering to popular opinion and what you really want to do with your blog. In the end it should be what YOU want to do. If you want to write that Fantasy Review, go ahead and do it, but when no one comments or views it, you’ll see that it might not be the best place to post these things.

Tune in Next Week for Chapter 3 — Setting Goals

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Reader Question of the Week:

Hey PJ,
I have a little problem. I got a review request that entirely doesn’t fit my book type from one of those indie authors that also sent me a e-copy of their book on Amazon (without me asking, mind you). And then I kinda-sorta by accident used this new feature Amazon has, where you can redeem e-books you’re gifted for money, and get a gift card instead of reading the book. And I just got $2.99 credited to my Amazon account.
My problem is two-fold. One, it’s stealing from Amazon, because the author didn’t pay to send me a copy of their book, and it’s “free money.” Two, I feel like I’m cheating the author, because I don’t blog to make money, and I just got 3 bucks off of him.
Amazon doesn’t have an “undo” button, and I don’t want to buy the book.
What should I do?

Thanks so much for all your help! You do awesome work, PJ!

(Oh, and for the record, I don’t dislike indie authors. I think they’re awesome. This was just one of those particularly pushy ones.)- Anon

Anon, yes, you just cheated both the author and Amazon. I would suck it up and use that $2.99 to buy the book that you were meant to receive or send it back as a gift to the author. You don’t have to review the book, but that seems like a really underhanded thing to do if that had been an intentional act. I understand you did it on accident, but frankly that money was meant to be for that book, not in your Amazon account to purchase another book. It is also my understanding (information gathered from twitter not first hand – link to Amazon page) that authors do have to pay a fee (authors if you are reading this and I’m wrong, please let us know in comments) to send the book. It is not a GIFT to you. It was meant to be a review copy. It also might be a good idea to let the Author know that you don’t intend to review the book because it is not inline with what you usually review and to maybe think about that the next time they just send someone an Amazon eGift.

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Book Blogger News:

Paid Reviews

Again, paid reviews are in the bloggyverse – but this time the focus is on Kirkus, one of the biggest review hubs in the publication world. Now, they don’t guarantee a positive review, just a review. But, you still have to pay them. Some indies swear by them. Others think it is a gross mishandling of something that should be a free service. Back sooo long ago in July Michelle Gorman wrote a post about a Blog called Chick Lit Girls (chicklitgirls.com) accepting money for reviews (not guaranteed positive) – that subsequent post and then blogger backlash shut down that blog completely. But, the question remains, Kirkus charges – why is that any different from the Lit Girls? Respectability and Longevity seem to be the answer. What do you think? Is this a biased view just because of the fact that Kirkus actually has paid employees?

RT 2014 NOLA Baby!

This was last week, but in RT’s newsletter they announced that RT2014 would be in New Orleans. I recommend the RT convention to book lovers, even if Romance isn’t your focus. It was so much fun and more hands on then the “Book Grab” conventions like ALA and BEA.

 

Happy Thursday. Talk Less. Read More. Blog with Integrity.

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